NASDA students take it outside
Exploring boundaries between reality and fantasy, National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA)'s latest contemporary play The Skriker is not theatre as we, in Christchurch, generally know it.
The main character is a shape-shifting, fate-twisting ancient fairie who speaks in riddles of chopped up language that nonetheless, strangely, starts to make sense. Second year NASDA students are thriving on the challenges of The Skriker, which will be performed outdoors in CPIT's D Block courtyard from 4 to 8 May.
English playwright Caryl Churchill's fascinating 1994 work has variously frustrated and inspired the students, but they know that pushing themselves to the limit is the best preparation they can get for a career in the industry.
Sarah Greaves and Monique Clementson play the only two human characters in the play, Lily and Josie, amongst a cast of otherworldly, fantastical creatures.
"It took a good couple of weeks to begin to understand the script," Greaves says. "We went through all these stages – it's about mental illness, it's about environmental damage, it's about post natal depression – this play makes it all real."
Clementson said they were told to read the script seven times. "We've learned techniques of acting, how to do the research and now we're putting it all into practice and it is so much harder than I thought. It teaches you that you can't be lazy, you have to work really hard; otherwise it is not going to work."
Dearna Doglione is one of several actors playing the Skriker "It's a beautiful process," she says. "The text is so rich, you can mine so much out of it and you come back and every time you say a line you think of it differently.
"This play has been the biggest learning curve."
All three actors were encouraging friends and family to come and see the unapologetically unconventional play.
"The reason I want my family to come and see the play is because it is so visually exciting, especially with the choreography and the makeup and costumes and the fact it is performed outside," Clementson said.
With elaborate stage makeup and actors emerging from the trees of the courtyard, the play will be a visual spectacle, says director and NASDA tutor Stephanie McKellar Ross, who has had Skriker on her wish list for a long time. Staging a play outdoors was another goal - and the two went together well conceptually.
"The Skriker and the creatures around the Skriker are very much of the planet. Skriker is about mental illness but she also represents our fears of the damage that we are doing to the planet."
Not that working outdoors did not have its own challenges. "We discovered we can perform safely in light rain," Stephanie said. "The students didn't even notice the rain when they were in performance mode, but I was there huddling under an umbrella during those rehearsals."
The audience, she was quick to add, will be under cover, on comfortable chairs with blankets provided.
For Christchurch audiences NASDA offers a unique chance to see this fascinating play.
The Skriker, directed by: Stephanie McKellar-Smith, written by Caryl Churchill, is on 7pm nightly from May 4th - 8th. Performed outdoors in the D block quad, tickets: $18 or $12 with concession, available from NASDA.co.nz.